For some time up to the start of drupa 2008 we have been referring to the event as “the inkjet drupa.” In fact I think I am to blame for generating this title not long after drupa 2004 in anticipation of what I expected from the event. Now drupa 2008 is well under way is this naming the event as ‘the inkjet drupa” a correct title for what we are seeing?

There is no doubt that inkjet technology for many areas of print has come to the forefront of attention here with a large number of new products, most of which I have to say are not available as yet. That is not say that is all that is happening at drupa. It would be remiss not to mention some of the real developments that are happening in other forms of printing including offset, flexo and electrophotographic digital printing. We have major launches including Heidelberg’s move into VLF offset presses with its Speedmaster XL 145 and 162, as well as manroland’s move down into the B3 format market with the Roland 50. In digital printing with dry and liquid toners there have been many new products including the HP Indigo 7000, the Kodak Nexpress 3600, the Ricoh C90 and the Xerox iGen4. In the flexo printing area the real developments are in flexo platemaking where the lead of DuPont and EskArtwork with the Cyrel plates and the CDI imagers is being seriously challenged. This is from Kodak with their FlexcelNX technology, from Macdermid working with Lüscher for the first first exposure commercial flexo plate, and also by Fujifilm with its move into flexo plates. I am likely to cover all these subjects and more in my blog entries on printceoblog in the forthcoming days.

However lets go back to the subject of inkjet. There is no doubt inkjet developments are generating a huge degree of interest. I have already written a number of blog entries on this subject that have generated significant response from readers. We had plenty of information prior to drupa about products to be introduced but we have also had a number of new announcements that were not expected. The two that have caused most interest came from Japan from Fujifilm and Dainippon Screen, both of whom introduced B2 format sheet fed presses using inkjet technology. Both are more concept than finished presses and are not due for shipment until 2009. For my opinion about these presses please refer to my recent blog entries.

The following is a list of some of the most interesting developments being seen using inkjet technology at drupa:

  • Emblaze Digital Spot Coater – This product being sold by Fujifilm is a development from FFEI using the Xaar 1001 printheads. This is a unit handling a maximum sheet size of 605 x 750 mm (B2) that is a single pass inkjet engine that can UV matt, gloss or silk coat as either spot or special effects.
  • Dimatix – Dimatix is the inkjet printhead division of Fujifilm and the supplier of the new printhead array used in the Fujifilm JetPress 720 I have covered in an earlier article. The new printhead is a brand new development under the Samba name and it appears to set a new standard for drop on demand printheads. It is an incredibly need implementation using silicon MEMS technology. It has the highest resolution of any industrial strength piezo head at a true 1,200 dpi. It also produces the smallest ink drop of any drop on demand printhead with its smallest size being 1.5 picolitres. Most inkjet printers have drop sizes well above 10 picolitres. It is a multi drop size head with drop sizes of 1.5, 3.0 and 4.5 picolitres. It comes with a running speed of up to 45 meters/min. The head is not yet in production and the anticipated date for this and the new press is sometime in 2009. The availability of the head to other vendors is still under discussion. Dimatix plans also to produce complete print systems using these heads for the printed electronics market where the drop size will be as low as 0.1 picolitres.
  • Xaar – There are eight new products being shown at drupa using the Xaar 1001 head. This includes three single pass engines, The Nilpeter FFEI Caslon, The Fuji FFEI Emblaze and the EFI Jetrion 4000 label press. It also includes the One Solution Meital 3000-10 wide format UV flatbed printer. This offers drop sizes from 6 – 42 picolitres and photo-realistic quality at speeds up to 410 sq metres/hr. The interesting factor however is the number of organisations that are currently evaluating this new head. Xaar advise me that over 50 organisations are currently testing out the head, so prospects for ongoing success look good.

These are just a few of the many inkjet developments being seen at drupa. I would write about more of them but it is getting late, I’m tired after a hard day, I need a drink, I’m just about to be thrown out of the drupa Press Center, and a nice company is waiting to take me out to dinner. I’ll be blogging tomorrow.